TIP 1: LISTEN without judging and without freaking out.
Just listen carefully to what the victim has to say. Most victims who do not report their assault decided to do so because no one would trust them.
TIP 2: BELIEVE “I believe you”.
A lot of victims do not report their assault because they are afraid that no one will believe them. Many survivors will have to spend their entire life trying to convince their families, friends and particularly authorities that what happened was real. Hence, they will have their account of the assault repeatedly challenged and de-legitimized throughout the time. So, offer an unconditional support.
TIP 3: HELP “Ask how you can help”.
Sometimes we just may want to immediately seek help for the victim. We must reminder that it is more useful to ask “Is there anything you need from me right now?” instead of trying to take control of the situation. It’s important to go at the victim’s pace and what she is comfortable in doing.
TIP 4: DON’T offer the victim suggestions on how she could have prevented being assaulted. Sexual assault happens because people do it, not because of the length of the dress, the time of the day or how much a person was drinking. The reality is that the assailant should never have done it in the first place. It’s NOT the victim’s fault.
TIP 5: RESPECT the victim personal space.
Remember that victims of violence have had their boundaries violently abused by the offender and will need people that respect their personal space. If a victim asks you not to say anything and to just listen, “just listen”. Do not report the assault to family members or to law enforcement without the victim consent.
TIP 6: EMPOWER “Put the victim in control of her own healing while being supportive”.
Never out pressure on your friend to react in a certain way. Provide the victim with the tools to decide how to move forward. Being a victim of violence means the person is usually dealing with a loss of power, so do all that you can to help restore trust and autonomy.
TIP 7: PROVIDE INFO “Let them know that there is help available”.
If the victim is not ready to go to a local centre, she can use a hotline.
TIP 8: ACCOMPANY “If the victim decides to move forward with seeking help”.
Offer to drive and/or accompany the victim to any agencies that can provide help, such as the hospital, a centre for legal advocacy and support and/or a counselor for therapy.
TIP 9: COMBAT VICTIM BLAMING “Look for these teachable moments”.
Have you ever heard someone blaming a victim of rape because of what she was wearing? Have you ever heard someone saying “she really wanted it” or stating that “NO means that they are just playing hard to get it”? Challenge and confront this when it happens! Let people know that it is inappropriate and how this hurts survivors.
TIP 10: DEBUNK the myth of alcohol and other substances.
Many of us have heard victim blaming language when it come to a victim drinking alcohol or using other substances before the assault. Just because a woman had something to drink does not mean she wanted to be assaulted and nor to blame her for it.
TIP 11: HOLD THE ABUSER ACCOUNTABLE “Do not let the abuser makes excuses”.
Generally speaking people and the media spend time blaming the victim but rarely blame the person who committed the crime. Shift the blame onto the abuser, where it belongs, and away from the victim.
TIP 12: EDUCATE YOURSELF by attending community events increasing awareness on gender-based violence.
This is a good way to show your support for the community of survivors living in your city and a good way to get educated on this issue.
TIP 13: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF by protecting your own mental and emotional health.
Sexual assault is more common than we let ourselves believe. If you or someone you know has experienced any form of abuse, the disclosure of another friend may bring back uncomfortable feelings and reawaken the trauma. Make sure you get the support you need to be a good ally to your friend and to protect your own mental and emotional health.
This morning I woke up in a happy and safe home. Not everyone did. Please don’t ignore violence against women. Learn more about Violence Against Women: http://easypoli.com/violence-against-women/